This Week in Trump: The 100-Days Crackup
President Trump spent the week giving a series of bewildering interviews.
The first of the comments came a few days before the president’s 100th day in office, when Trump told Reuters he didn’t think running the country would be so darn difficult:
I loved my previous life, I loved my previous life, I had so many things going. I actually, this is more work than my previous life—I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a, I’m a details oriented person, I think you would say that, but I do miss my old life.
He also handed the reporters printouts of a map showing his Electoral College victory.
On his 100th day in office, Trump had what he described as a “very friendly conversation” with the Philippines’ murderous authoritarian leader, Rodrigo Duterte—even inviting the strongman to the White House. Two days later, Trump told Bloomberg News he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un if the conditions were right. And in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation, he praised the totalitarian leader:
I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others.
And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.
In an interview with Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito, Trump made some bizarre claims about American history:
I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. And he was really angry that—he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War—if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?
When he was reminded that the Civil War began 16 years after Jackson’s death, Trump doubled down on Twitter:
President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War started, saw it coming and was angry. Would never have let it happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
In the interview with Bloomberg, Trump made some unlikely policy proposals, suggesting that he’d consider raising the tax on gasoline to pay for infrastructure:
I have one friend who’s a big trucker and he’s—he’s like—said, “I’ve never seen anything like it,” you know, with the roads—you’ve heard this story—with the roads, and his trucks are all being destroyed, and he’s going to start buying cheap equipment now. Yeah, the roads are in bad shape.
But I’ve—I’ve had the truckers come to see me, that if we earmarked money toward the highways that they would—that they would not mind a tax—you know, gas tax or some form of tax.
In the same interview, he also said he’s “looking at” breaking up the big banks:
I’m looking at that right—I didn’t know this one was going to be brought up. But we are looking at that. There are—you know, some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we’re going to look at that. We’re going to—we’re looking at it right now as we speak.
Trump’s media blitz ended with CBS News political director (and Slate podcast host) John Dickerson asking if he stood by his unsubstantiated claim that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. “I don’t stand by anything,” the president said. When Dickerson pressed the issue, Trump cut him off: “OK, it’s enough. Thank you. Thank you very much.” The president then sat down at his Oval Office desk and began shuffling some papers.
On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to say the government needs a “good ‘shutdown.’ ”
Also This Week
- Trump reopened conversations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The two talked about the need to cooperate on Syria.
- The president said he would work as a “mediator, an arbitrator, or a facilitator” to help broker peace in the Middle East after he met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.
- The White House is loosening nutritional requirements for school meals, part of Michelle Obama’s legacy as first lady.
- The president’s re-election campaign released an ad touting Trump’s first 100 days, which CNN refused to air because it calls mainstream media “fake news.”
- Trump’s nominee to be Army secretary is likely to withdraw amid controversy over transphobic, Islamophobic, and anti-evolution comments.
- FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers he was “mildly nauseous” at the thought of influencing the presidential election but insisted notifying Congress of new emails related to the investigation of Hillary Clinton was the right decision.
- Trump is reportedly leaning toward getting the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement after he harshly criticized the deal in his 100-day speech.
- Trump triumphantly declared the “eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end” when he became the first sitting president since Ronald Reagan to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual leadership forum.
- After warning that he was ready to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump said he would try to renegotiate it first.
What to Read
The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos takes a detailed look at whether Trump could be kicked out of office:
By any normal accounting, the chance of a Presidency ending ahead of schedule is remote. In two hundred and twenty-eight years, only one President has resigned; two have been impeached, though neither was ultimately removed from office; eight have died. But nothing about Trump is normal. Although some of my sources maintained that laws and politics protect the President to a degree that his critics underestimate, others argued that he has already set in motion a process of his undoing.
Trump’s hotel in Washington has emerged as a unique place in the nation’s capital, writes Bloomberg’s Max Abelson:
Spending almost 50 straight hours inside Donald Trump’s second-most important building on Pennsylvania Avenue—from late morning on April 25 to the early afternoon two days later—shows why it’s the perfect symbol of his presidency. The hotel lobby is drawing Trump fans who cheered his promises to drain Washington’s swamp, along with the power players who know how to swim in it. Because much of their money will end up in Trump’s pocket, and the government he controls leased the building to him, few places present more potential conflicts for the president.
Trump’s comments on the Civil War aren’t just ignorant; they’re also dangerous, warns Slate’s Jamelle Bouie:
It suggests a worldview in which everything can be resolved by deals, where there are no moral stakes or irreconcilable differences, where there aren’t battles that have to be fought for the sake of the nation and its soul. Slavery had to be eradicated, and war was the only option. Any deal that was achievable would have been an immoral maintenance of an abominable status quo.
This Week in @realDonaldTrump
Just like Trump’s 100-day interviews, his tweets this past week were scattered. He repeatedly attacked the Democrats, accusing them of being weak on health care, the military, border security, and threatening summer holidays in the country’s national parks.
The president also responded to Clinton saying Comey and WikiLeaks hurt her campaign. On the contrary, wrote Trump, “Comey was the best thing that ever happened” to the Democratic candidate and the “Trump/Russia story” was just “an excuse” for losing the election.
All those who see first lady Melania Trump as an unwilling participant in her husband’s presidency enjoyed a moment of glee on Tuesday evening, when she liked a tweet that suggested the Trumps’ marriage is an unhappy one. She reversed the gesture within 45 minutes.